Published: July 31st 2012July 28th 2012
Most guides list the Dingle Peninsula among the 10 most beautiful places on earth. It is smaller than the neighboring Ring of Kerry, and has less developed roads. There are very few tour buses on the Dingle Peninsula, and areas where none would dare to venture.
Armed with confidence from my drive around the Ring of Kerry, I ventured onto the Dingle Peninsula. Initially, the roads were good - good meaning that there were two lanes wide enough to warrant a painted line down the middle. This went on for a while, then the dividing line disappeared as the road narrowed and it became necessary to use caution negotiating past oncoming traffic. In time, at points, the road narrowed to a single lane - but the traffic remained two-way. Where it got insanely narrow, there were spaces cut out along the side of the road at intervals so that one car could pull over to let the other one pass.
I first encountered this one lane road situation going up to Brendan Point. On this road (lane is more appropriate) car traffic went in both directions, along with hikers, bicyclists, and the occasional family with stroller and toddlers. Passing
these people going and coming from the Point - there was no other way out - it amazed me that any of them (us) survived the route.
Once back on something that looked like a real road, I decided to cut across the peninsula and go to the town of Dingle via Connor Pass. The pass works its way up through the mountainous center offering breathtaking vistas along the way. As below, the road starts out well, then narrows to one lane with cut outs in the rocks or extensions on the cliffs for passing. The system works well until someone gets stupid. I had just pulled out from a lookout with 6 or 7 cars behind me as we continued our ascent. Above a van had come around a corner, saw us, and pulled off to the side. Then a large Audi came around the corner determined to make his way down. He stopped, flashed his lights to say "move out of my way," but the line of cars behind me had nowhere to go. Eventually he edged over to the cliffside wall at a point where it was marginally wider. I squeezed past him with literally inches
between us on one side and inches between my car and the rock face on the other. This is where all of those years of driving in Loop rush-hour traffic paid off. If any of the cars behind me was as large as the Audi, I suspect that they had a very intimate encounter. What a Bozo!
After that nothing was too intimidating - although there were many moments that pushed my concentration to new levels. It is fair to say that some parts of the road scared the hell out of me - and I've come to feel that that is not a bad thing. The good part about having the hell scared out of you is that once out, it is gone. For me the "hell" with this trip took the form of lines like "I can't travel alone." "I'm too old to take this kind of a trip." "What on earth was I thinking?" and "Can I please just go home and curl up in bed?" The very fact that I am writing this is evidence that these "hells" never had any merit in the first place.
The pictures from the drive will speak for
themselves much better than my words.
I had started onto the Dingle Peninsula about 10 a.m. It was approaching 5 p.m. as I approached the end of the drive. I was tired and looking forward to getting back to my room for a good rest when the road curved and before me lay Inch Beach. I had read that this was a major beach and one where the surf can be impressive. (They hold surfing championship competitions here.) I was not prepared for the overwhelming immensity and grandeur of the beach. It was low tide and I could drive right out onto the sand and walk around. Exhaustion gave way to delight. I got back to my lodging 3 hours later.
Considering travel modes in the early 1900's, I doubt that Margaret Campbell would have ventured here. It certainly would have been a much wilder place than it is now.
If she had gone to Killarney, she would have had enough to see and explore within the town and its immediate surroundings. I could see the merit in spending several more days here - maybe sometime. Killarney is a nice area.
There are more photos below